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As might have been expected, as soon as he was of sufficient age to receive holy orders, he devoted himself and his attainments at the altar to the service of his God. On the third of January, 1660, he was ordained deacon, and, on the thirty-first of the same month, priest; and from that time he appears to have had no other object in view throughout his long and active life, than the honor of his Saviour and the spiritual interests of his fellow-sinners.
The parish of Ealing in Middlesex was the first scene of his labors; but being appointed, in the year 1662, rector of St. Peter's, Cornhill, he accepted the care of that parish, and exhibited there an example of that pastoral diligence, which soon after that period began to be somewhat unusual in the English church, but which, after a long season of comparative apathy, is again seen to benefit and gladden our country. Here he seems to have written the First Part of his Private Thoughts, not for publication, but “for the settling of his Principles and Conduct of his Life;" and in the Preface to this work is a sufficient testimony from one, who knew him well, that he heartily believed the Articles of Faith which he there lays down, and habitually regulated his conduct by the Resolutions which he deduces from them. The result was as honorable to him, as it was advantageous to his flock. It pleased God to crown his labours with such success, that “as he himself was justly styled the great reviver and restorer of primitive piety, so his parish was deservedly proposed as the best model and pattern for the rest of its neighbors to copy after."
His singular merit recommended lim at length to the
favor of his diocesan, Bishop Hinchman, who testified his approbation of his conduct by collating him to the prebend of Chiswick in the cathedral of St. Paul's on the twenty-second of December, 1674; and Dr. Compton, the successor of Bishop Hinchman, conferred upon him, in the year 1681, the archdeaconry of Colchester. In this office he behaved, as he had done before in every station of life, in a most regular, watchful, and exemplary manner; and, not satisfied with the imperfect reports given in by church-wardens at his visitations, he is said to have antually visited every parish within his archdeaconry in person.
In 1684 he was installed prebendary of Canterbury, and about the same time was appointed chaplain to king William and queen Mary. About seven years afterwards, Dr. Kenn, the Bishop of Bath and Wells, refusing to take the oaths of allegiance to William and Mary, was deprived of his bishoprick. It was consequently offered to Dr. Beveridge, but he refused it, because, probably, being a man of tender conscience, he was unwilling, according to the language of those times, “ to eat another man's bread.” Some time afterwards however, he accepted the see of St. Asaph, and was consecrated July 16, 1704; but he was not long permitted to perform the duties of this elevated station. Three years and about eight months after his advancement to the episcopal chair, this good old man went to his rest. He died on the fifth of March, 1707, in the seventy-first year of his age, and was buried in St. Paul's cathedral.
The greatest part of his estate was left to the Societies for Propagating the Gospel and for Promoting Christian
Knowledge. The scenes of his youth however were not forgotten. To the curacy of Mount Sorrel and the vicarage of Barrow, he bequeathed twenty pounds per annum, “ in remembrance of God's mercies vouchsafed to him thereabouts ;” besides a further sum to the latter parish to be distributed yearly, by the ministers and church-wardens, to the poor.
The author of the original Prefaces to his Private Thoughts gives to Bishop Beveridge, as a scholar and a minister of Jesus Christ, a most exalted character; and the testimony of many other writers confirms the truth of his eulogium. Never perbaps was any man held in higher estimation by his cotemporaries, and never had any man less reason to be ashamed of the means by which bis reputation was acquired.
As a writer he has been long and greatly valued. His works indeed do not display that striking originality of conception, that fertility of genius, that richness of imagination, which distinguished, in so remarkable a degree, some of his cotemporaries; but while they are somewhat inferior in these respects to the productions of a Taylor or a Howe, they yield to no writings of his time in seriousness, in affection, in earnestness, in every thing which indicates a mind filled with the fear of God and fixed on eternity. They have not however escaped censure. Soon after the death of the Bishop, a pamphlet was published with the avowed design of exposing their faults and lessening their influence; but the attempt was altogether unsuccessful. It evidently had its origin in a rooted aversion to those principles of our faith, which Dr. Beveridge, in common with every other consistent churchman, deemed of the highest authority and importance, but which, about that period, began to be regarded as the peculiarities of a party.
Not that his works are faultless. The writer of these lines is constrained to admit that he has sometimes found a difficulty in discovering the force of his reasoning, and occasionally in apprehending his meaning, when his subject has led him to speak concerning the distinction of persons in the incomprehensible godhead. He has been ready to suspect him of paying, in this instance, too great a regard to the subtleties and learned jargon of the scholastic divinity. In a matter confessedly far out of our sight, and probably above the reach of the highest created being, it is safe, and perhaps wise, to confine our thoughts, as well as our language, within the limits which the Most High has prescribed in his word; to speak of his essence, and of the manner in which he exists, in those terms only, which he himself has employed.
Sometimes also this venerable man has used expressions, which, though sanctioned by names of the greatest authority, are certainly not warranted by the language, and perhaps not by the spirit, of scripture. A severe critic might apply this remark to a few words in the conclusion of Article VII, in the First Part of bis Private Thoughts. He might say that, though cleansed by the atoning blood and robed in the righteousness of the Lord Jesus Christ, man, as far as his desert of punishment is concerned, is still inconceivably guilty, as guilty in this sense as though he had no connection whatsoever with his Saviour: and such a being, under any circumstances, ought not per. baps to ascribe, in any degree, the goodness, which pardons and blesses him, to justice as its source. It is mercy; it is grace. As far as he is concerned, it must be traced only and solely to the uninerited grace, the unmingled mercy of Jehovah. The justice of God indeed is displayed and magnified by the way in which that mercy is bestowed, and his exceeding great and precious promises, his faithfulness, may be pleaded by the sinner who is drawing near to his throne; but the language which most becomes him there, and which in fact will be most congenial to the best feelings of his beart, will not be
Justice, justice;" but that, which an humble suppliant once used, and which that suppliant's Saviour afterwards commended, “ God be merciful to me, a sinner.”
But no man was ever more ready to discountenance every thing which tended to foster a proud and assuming spirit, than the lowly Beveridge; and could he now be called on to explain the expressions which have given occasion to these, perhaps hypercritical, remarks, he would undoubtedly retract them, or so qualify their meaning, as to make them illustrate, rather than impugn, the truth, to which he owes all the happiness he enjoys, and which is one of the grand themes of the praise that is ever bursting from his lips; By grace are ye saved the great grace--the abundance of grace--the manifold grace